Height that you wish for …

At public meetings and in media discussions about how high is high enough, a frequent lament heard goes something like “it would be alright over there [insert name of place far from the person making the comment], but not here.” For years, the Councillor and community groups working on the LeBreton Flats plans fought for an essentially low rise community. The final height limit for most of the buildings is seven stories (just like Paris !), with some towers on podiums extending to fourteen (not like Paris!).  The first phase, just built, has two towers on a very large seven story podium. … Continue reading Height that you wish for …

When capitalists conspire …

Last April, the Dalhousie Community Association, of which I was President at the time, held its AGM. Hard pressed to come up with speaker to trump the previous year’s John Doran of Domicile speaking on the economics of condo developments, I searched around for an interesting and educational speaker. Enter Ottawa Senators founder, engineer, professor of architecture, etc etc  Dr Bruce Firestone . He agreed to give a talk on urban redevelopment in older neighborhoods, good or bad. He sure doesn’t pull punches.  In fact, he referred to a certain yellow brick condo development as being akin to a brown substance … Continue reading When capitalists conspire …

The “Other” Iconic Station viewpoint that we lost

The Confederation Square station entrance (or lack of one) is getting a lot of press.  Earlier, the proposed Rideau Station was straddling the underside of the Canal, with the east entrance coming up at the Rideau Centre and the west entrance coming up at Confederation Square. This was called the Rideau Street station as that was its primary market, and the main reason it was pushed eastward under the canal was the sharp southward curve the track took immediately upon leaving the Rideau Station heading towards Campus:   The prior plans showed the western end of the Rideau station platform connected to a long, fairly … Continue reading The “Other” Iconic Station viewpoint that we lost

Firestone Prescribes (iii)

I concur with Dr Firestone that Ottawa took its eye off the ball regarding the transitway. It always has money for road widenings and intersection “improvements” and new roads, and new bridges, but not enough for transitway extensions. Ask a city politician, and you get a dirge back about it’s the provinces or fed’s fault because they aren’t funding the transitway. Funny, the feds don’t fund a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t prevent the city from spending its own money. The City, IMO, has spending problems more than it has funding problems. I must say at this point that Prof Bruce is on … Continue reading Firestone Prescribes (iii)

Firestone talks (take ii)

Now I got quite interested when this slide came up. The left axis (vertical) shows the elevation of the condo, ie what floor it is on. The horizontal axis shows increasing rent or price. The faint yellow line shows the rent curve for a building with apartments on the ground floor. These apartments are often the lowest price, as they have no view, no privacy from passersby. The red curve shows what happens if the base of the building is constructed in “townhouse” form. The value of these units goes up significantly. Then the value drops off for the lower rise apartments, … Continue reading Firestone talks (take ii)

Firestone speaks

Last week, the Dalhousie Community Association, of which I am the outgoing president, held its annual AGM. Last year our speaker was John Doran from Domicile, speaking on how to cost out a condo project. This year, we had Dr Bruce Firestone, best known as founder of the Senators. Until recently he was a professor of entrepreneurship at Ottawa U. He has been an engineer, real estate developer, hockey guy, professor of architecture, engineering, and business, a mortgage broker, author, parent, etc. He is an engaging speaker. He talks with confidence born of personal experience on the topic and the … Continue reading Firestone speaks

Look up, way way up Jerome

I am always dating myself by referring to things by their old name, or to things that no longer exist and so no one (except other older people) knows what I am referring to. Are you old enough to remember the Friendly Giant on CBC TV? I could hear the phrase “Look up, look way way up” when I saw this condo building on West Wellington near Island Park. I do wonder just how well that concrete overhang will shelter the entrance a number of floor below. Or if it will simply feel like it is about to come crashing … Continue reading Look up, way way up Jerome

What to do with a highrise (proposed)

Right on the boundary of Hintonburg and Dalhousie, which is to say in the heart of the west side turf this blog purports to cover, at the intersection of Breezehill and Somerset, Claridge is proposing a 28 storey highrise. The adjacent mainstreet is lively; the views of the downtown superb. No doubt the 28 floor request is an opening gambit. If he actually gets it, bonus for him. But I suspect he will be quite happy to get 18. Why 18? Because that’s the height of the 30+ year old apartment a block west at Bayswater. Funnily enough, opponents of … Continue reading What to do with a highrise (proposed)

From low rise to high rise …

The Dalhousie and Hintonburg Community Associations will be holding a joint open house on Tuesday at 7pm at Tom Brown Arena where interested people can see just what the City is planning for the industrial and vacant lands along the OTrain corridor. Most of the emphasis will be on the area north of Somerset Street, to Bayview Station, which is shown in the illustration below. Those are 30+ storey office towers on the top centre, opposite Bayview Station; the blueish buildings are already approved by the City and NCC as part of the LeBreton project (so don’t fret, we’ll all be dead before … Continue reading From low rise to high rise …

Claridge application for 1050 Somerset West

Claridge is proposing a new condo tower for their site at Breezehill and Somerset Streets, just west of the O-Train corridor. The site is between Devonshire school and Somerset, in the old Chinese market store (which was Acklands AutoSupply before that). (Pending zoning approvals etc the store is being renovated and rented out to a dollar store). Immediately to the west of the site is a four storey red brick office building, opposite that is the 18 storey residential tower that looks like it might date from the sixties or early seventies. Here in a nutshell is the neighborhood context: The left picture, a … Continue reading Claridge application for 1050 Somerset West

Real entrances or planner’s fakes?

It is popular today that the base level of apartment buildings be visually separate from the tower above, through the use of a real three-dimensional podium, or too often in Ottawa: a drawn-on one. A further refinement is to have separate uses for the ground floor. On traditional main streets, this is usually commercial storefronts. The original Centretown plan required these on side streets too, which gives the area on both sides of Elgin such a unique atmosphere, as there are little storefronts, often with marginal businesses that cannot afford the increasingly-franchise-cluttered main street rents. Alas, what the Centretown plan cleverly called for, the … Continue reading Real entrances or planner’s fakes?

Proposed condo, 175 Richmond Road

Claridge is proposing a six and nine story condo buildings at the corner of Richmond and Kirkwood, opposite the Real Canadian Superstore: The lot is currently occupied by a three storey industrial building, with strip-mall type retail on the Richmond side; with undefined street/parking lot on the east side where Kirkwood sort-of runs northwards from Richmond; and with loading docks and a very industrial frontage on the north side, Wilbur Street.  The current industrial building is zero lot line on the west, where it abuts the rear lot lines of homes. This is quite similar to my own home, and I greatly … Continue reading Proposed condo, 175 Richmond Road

Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

The City has been sporadically doing up a CDP (Community Design Plan) (which is a plan of dubious effectiveness under the Official Plan) for the O-Train corridor running from Bayview Station to Carling Avenue. Residents frequently ascribe its tardiness to a desire on the part of the City to see all the developable land purchased and rezoned before the plan is drawn up. In that way, the city won’t have to continually amend it. The City is committed to having CDPs done for all the stations along the OLRT. Having seen some of the in-progress ones I’d have to say they are better than nothing.  At least they … Continue reading Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

The Soho Italia project by Starwood Mastercraft has been controversial since it first became public knowledge through this blog early in the year. The + or – 35 storey condo tower put a major hole in the established urban plan for the neighborhood and multi-year traditional main street plans. The tower, a short block north of Carling Avenue, is aggressively positioned to maximize views. Not being in the “first row” along Carling, it runs the risk of being blocked by competing towers should ones be built where the CIBC is, or Dow Motors (whose site has NO height limit on it) or other vacant … Continue reading Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

What should go at street level? (part iii – more good)

Continuing on the theme of what should go on the ground floor of new condo buildings in the downtown neighborhoods, it is easy to criticize the faults of what was built. But what about some examples of good stuff? It’s pretty easy on main streets: put in commercial space. The building is going to be there for a 100 years or more, the downtown neighborhoods are most likely to get busier, and such space will be in demand for much of the next century. Domicile’s Piccadilly building on West Wellington is pretty typical. It is currently two storefronts, but is doored and set … Continue reading What should go at street level? (part iii – more good)

What should go at street level? (part ii – the bad)

I wrote this post last week for www.SpacingOttawa.ca, you should have read it there! It got a number of responses so for this version of it I have corrected and clarified some things. There are also more pictures, because that is the WSA style! Thank you for reading. __________________________________________ What should go at street level? Large property development firms are seldom compared to little domesticated birds. But in some ways they are canaries in the coal mines of the urban streetscape. And the song these messengers sing is not a cheerful tune for downtown pedestrians. Consider this not-so-old  downtown condo: … Continue reading What should go at street level? (part ii – the bad)

Cheap, an oversight, or lack of oversight?

Down on LeBreton Flats things are quieter right now. The music concert season is drawing to a close (did you notice, the HoDown patrons were much better dressed than the Bluesfest patrons? Cowboy boots, hot pants, checkered shirts, and straw cowboy hats….hee hah!). Claridge is finishing up his current building, but not yet started its next bunch. You can actually hear the birds chirp, and see them flitting from stunted popular tree to stunted shrub amongst the bomb-crater landscape that typifies much of the Flats. Claridge builds the condos, and landscapes their grounds. He then landscapes the “public parkland” space along the new bike … Continue reading Cheap, an oversight, or lack of oversight?

End of the Yellow Brick road, err buildings

The NCC wanted a different look and feel for the LeBreton neighborhood. They wanted a neighborhood that was distinctive. To this end they chose a particular palate of colours that all bidders had to employ. Predominate in this palate was yellow brick. It was always in the plan that as the buildings approached the south edge (I thought they meant Albert Street…) they would become two tone brick, employing the traditional red brick common to the older neighborhoods, to form a transition zone. I am not sure whether the lack of enthusiasm for the look of the recently constructed condos comes … Continue reading End of the Yellow Brick road, err buildings

March of the High Rises

The City has recently seen a spate of high rise applications and project announcements. Claridge has a number of downtown high rises in the high 20- storey range: beside Bell Canada, on Nepean and Gloucester, and on Queen at Lyon (currently Barbarella’s and a parking lot). There are taller applications too. The first out of the gate* was Soho Italia, proposed for 500 Preston Street near Dow’s Lake. The Soho Italia structure is notable for several features: most of the parking garage is above grade (about 7 stories of it) clad in a perforated black metal screen; the building rises straight up occupying all of … Continue reading March of the High Rises

The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

Warning: long post. Go pee or get your coffee before you start reading. After so much huffing and puffing, the City has detailed its final LRT route and station locations, and their costs, to Council and the Public. The most noteworthy change has been to move the tunnel from the “cross country” deep alignment under Albert Street, then Queen Street … to one that traverses the downtown always under Queen. I have read the available material from the City justifying the move. It is a very political document, light on the technical stuff. It’s way more PR oriented than the previous reports. … Continue reading The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

Birth of a street

In neighbourhoods such as ours, in established urban areas, new streets seldom spring up. In Orleans, Kanata, or Barrhaven they sprout up like dandelions. Every time I go out to those suburbs… everything has changed, new streets, new big box plazas… I live on the edge of the LeBreton Flats, and have seen several new streets appear. First was Walnut Court, in the 1980’s. On LeBreton Flats another new public street is being gestated. It has no name on the stake. It is being surveyed and built to allow access to the next condo Claridge is building on the Flats, a bit south … Continue reading Birth of a street

Pooley’s Bridge quietly re-opened

  Above: a pic of Polley’s Bridge as seen from Fleet Street, beside the new Claridge condos on leBreton Flats. The City closed the Bridge  for several years as Claridge used Fleet as a construction staging site for the new condos. Then in June last year, it became possible to cross the bridge going west provided you were willing to follow a narrow goat trail along the tailrace, skirting the construction site for the yellow-brick tower, to join the path built two years ago at the base of the first part of the building. Much more promptly this year, Claridge has … Continue reading Pooley’s Bridge quietly re-opened

LRT Stations (part iv) LeBreton

There is currently a bus transitway station at LeBreton Flats. The proposed LRT station is essentially at the same location, except it extends further west under Booth Street and is a few feet south of the current station, allowing room for landscaping and breathing space between it and the aqueduct. On the aerial photo above, note also the pedestrian crossing of the aqueduct off to the left side of the picture, this is the old Broad Street right of way and ped bridge. The site analysis drawing, above, shows the proximity of the current LeBreton residential neighborhood. Blue arrows show view planes, but both are rather curiously … Continue reading LRT Stations (part iv) LeBreton

New Firefighters memorial

There is a large patch of grass between the first towers by Claridge on  LeBreton Flats, and the new Wellington Street. This is the site of the new Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial. Construction is supposed to begin this year to build the memorial. I remain sceptical about how well it will function as a people space. I am concerned it may be a dead spot along the road. In the drawing above, the road at the bottom is Wellington, the block at the top is the first podium part of the LeBreton yellow brick condo, and the curvy road is the new Lett Street which … Continue reading New Firefighters memorial

More views from the Flats

Yesterday’s post had some interior shots and eastward views from the ninth floor of Claridge’s condo tower on LeBreton Flats. Here are some shots in other directions, including the courtyards. The stair and elevator access to the public roof decks is brightly lit all night with flourescent lights. Perhaps the condo board could replace these with a 25 watt nite lite and maybe something brighter on a motion sensor that turns on for a minute then dims. The glare now must impede the view.     Continue reading More views from the Flats